Use of Screencasts for Providing Feedback

The benefits of screencast to provide feedback, I have found, has been a real learning experience during the covid teaching experience. Scholars of writing pedagogy have long advocated that we should rethink how we provide feedback during writing activities. Such methods, Anson, Dannels, and Laboy (2016) found, “allow students to perceive an individualized instructional process enabled by the response mode.” More work needs to be done on this but the results from my experience show that this is indeed a very useful method of providing feedback on students’ writing.

Tools such as Screencast-o-matic and how it lets us record our feedback on student writing through screencasts. I began using this mode of feedback regularly during the last year, when we were running our classes online. The change in the situation forced me to adapt and for the better. Rather than being able to speak with students on their papers and rough drafts one on one, I started asking them to submit their drafts to me through Blackboard dropboxes and then I would record my feedback to them to watch. This made a tremendous difference for two reasons:

  1. Allowed them to watch it in their own time and when they can pay attention: One thing that is very clear is that attention and cognitive bandwidth is not something everyone can control at all times. Staring at the screen can lead to a lot of weariness and we are therefore unable to pay attention when we need to. This is true for our students as well and they are not always able to pay attention when you are speaking to them. This means whatever feedback we provide might not be taken up, not because they don’t want to pay attention in the moment, but more so that they cant. Providing feedback through screencasts combines the immediacy of oral feedback and its clarity with the benefit that they can watch it when they are better able to absorb it.
  2. It allowed students to repeatedly watch it as they were revising their pieces: The benefits of this is similar. They can watch the recordings as students sit down to the tasks of revising their work. With the screencasts, students can watch sections of my feedback as they are working on those sections. This allows them to actively engage with my oral feedback as they are composing their edits and revisions. The fact that they are watching my feedback repeatedly – some more than others I admit – makes it more likely to be absorbed. From my perspective, I can see that the student is watching the recording several times in absolute terms. That is, I can see that the video has been viewed four or five times, though I’m not sure what part they were watching.

Sources of feedback in the writing class ranges from written comments, one-on-one conferences, taped recordings (sounds quaint now to think of those early studies by Chris Anson on feedback using tape for feedback), from instructors, peer review feedback or writing center tutors, or even propitiatory resources such as Smarthinking tutoring (a service provided through Blackboard). It will be interesting to think how these avenues will shift as more digital tools become incorporated into their feedback activities.

References:

Anson, C. M., Dannels, D. P., Laboy, J. I., & Carneiro, L. (2016). Students’ perceptions of oral screencast responses to their writing: Exploring digitally mediated identities. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 30(3), 378-411.

Anson, C. (1989). Response and Ways of Knowing. In Writing and Response: Theory, Practice, and Research (pp. 332–366). National Council of Teachers of English.

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